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Comment Re:The State of Bavaria Holds the Copyright? (Score 4, Informative) 462 462

The Federal Republic is the successor to the Weimar Republic, so the state was not "destroyed". Apparently, when an estate goes to the state, it goes to the state (Bundesland) where the deceased was last registered to live, not Germany; Hitler was registered as living in Munich. That's why it's Bavaria.

Comment Re:Alas, they have to buy spyware with the savings (Score 2) 229 229

Not where I come from. In Europe, telco's have to foot the bill for lawful intercept equipment. They can charge the agencies only a nominal fee for intercepts. Industry organisations have estimated the additional capital expenditure at up to a hundred million Euros for Germany alone.

Comment Re:Signage? Lighting? (Score 1) 90 90

Their train signals are mostly decoration, as well, even though the system controlling the trains follows similar rules to real-world trains, and could easily control signals as well.

On the other hand, the immersive qualities are really amazing. I bet you a good German beer that you won't hold the missing lighting and signage against them after having been there even just five minutes.

Comment Annoying, but maybe a silver lining? (Score 1) 451 451

Unless Oracle steps up and makes Mac OS X a primary platform for JDK releases, this might be rather annoying. Ultimately, I might be forced to do development on Linux or Windows. That would blow.

But maybe this decision encourages some group to package a kick ass JDK, and have more timely updates and developer snapshots... one can dream.

WIth the App store and Flash removal, I'm not keeping my hopes up though.

Comment Re:Avoid non-carrier providers! (Score 4, Informative) 153 153

I would only consider Vodafone and T-Mobile as your options, these two have established cell networks, all the others borrow on these networks and as such tend to be at the bottom of the traffic prioritization.

Nonsense. There's four network operators in Germany: T-Mobile, Vodafone, E-Plus, and O2 Germany. While T-Mobile and Vodafone have a larger buildout (higher density, more towers in rural areas), E-Plus and O2 are not that far behind. I find that O2's network works really well in cities, with no noticable degradation compared to T-Mobile.

All four operators have their own "value" brands, and there's a couple of MVNOs, and as far as I can tell, no priorisation is in effect for any user. If you do have coverage, chances are that you will have excellent throughput. Nothing like certain US operators...

Comment Fonic (Score 3, Informative) 153 153

First T-Mobile USA has very little to do with T-Mobile Germany, except having the same owner. In fact, there's rumors that Deutsche Telekom wants to divest of T-Mobile USA, similarly to what the recently did in the UK. My experience has been that T-Mobile USA don't really care what's going on elsewhere in the world.

Fonic is a service brand of O2 Germany (owned by Telefonica), offering pay as you go prepaid services, both voice and data. Their data offering is 2.50 Euros per calendar day, for a maximum of 1 GB transfer volume. O2's UMTS network offers HSUPA with up to 3.6Mbps down, 384 kbps up. Their coverage tends to be concentrated in urban areas; rural areas might have no coverage. If you exceed the transfer volume, speed will be limited to 64kbps for that day. Adding credit to the account can be done through credit card, direct debit from a German bank account, or by purchasing vouchers available at many stores. The sell a USB data stick for 60 Euros.

There's a couple more offerings, but most come with additional strings attached. With any offering, you technically will need a residency permit in the EU, with appropriate paperwork; some shops are less stringent than others. If you do have friends in Germany, have them order the package online in advance. You might want to get a seperate prepaid SIM for voice service as well, instead of international roaming.

Finally, if you do have friends living in Germany, ask them if their DSL or cable provider has good deals on package extensions for mobile data options. For example, Alice offers up to ten SIM cards for free, and has a 6 Euro per month data option available. Billing would go to whomever is paying for the DSL/Cable.

Finally, have fun!

Comment Re:The facts about urban wireless towers (Score 1) 791 791

Why do you think a sector antenna would be emitting only -40 dBm? That is on the level of a micro- or nano cell. The maximum allowable is well north of 10 kW EIRP, so even if that cell is tuned down to only cover a small sector, it still will be putting out 40 to 50 dBm. Otherwise, as you rightly state, reception inside builings would be nearly impossible.

I don't particularly believe in electro-sensitivity, so wouln't be too concerned even with that number, but I still would feel a bit uneasy about potential power levels. Maybe it's worthwile checking FCC permits for this particular site and the actual max. EIRP they're allowed to push out. Shielding those walls with copper mesh wall paper probably puts you right with the tinfoil hat brigade, but might avoid potential interference of any wireless equipment you might want to use.

Comment Effective way to keep screens locked (Score 4, Funny) 336 336

A bank I did some consulting work for had a very effective cultural rule to force people to lock their machines when they left their desks: if you find an unlocked machine, pull up the email client and send a message to everyone: "today's my birthday, drinks on me after work!" (other NSFW messages left to the readers imagination.)

Apparently, very few people left their machines unlocked more than once...

Comment Re:16 years (Score 1) 633 633

- Remember 8250 UART serial ports? Long dead.

Maybe 8250 chips have been superseded, but 8250 compatible ports continue to be available on many mainboards. And there's always USB adapters. And given how cheap a serial port is to implement, I'm sure we will continue to see it for at least service access to many devices going forward.

- Remember 2400bps modems? Long dead. How about accoustic couplers?

Again, V.22bis only modems are not sold anymore, but practically any modem that support V.92 will also support V.22 (and probably Bell 212 and even Bell 103 modes). And accoustic couplers do the same thing, but were motivated mostly by the insistence of Bell that you couldn't hook up your own equipment to the phone line directly. Until high-speed links get a better coverage, people in the boondocks will continue to rely on modems to get online.

- We had pensioned CGA and EGA - and gone for VGA by 1993. SVGA came soon afterwards.

But the VGA signal standard (plug, levels, etc.) has continued to work, and even fancy new 24" 1920x1200 monitors will display a 640x480@60Hz signal, just because creaky old BIOSes still start up with this or other equally outdated video modes.

Comment Re:Slow news day from what it sounds like... (Score 1) 203 203

The use of TWT in satellites are recent, as in 25-30 years ago.

Huh?! Traveling-wave tube:

On July 10, 1962, the first communications satellite, Telstar 1, was launched with a 2 W, 4 GHz RCA-designed TWT transponder used for transmitting RF signals back to the earth. Syncom 2, the first synchronous satellite (Syncom 1 did not reach its final orbit), launched on July 26, 1963 with two 2 W, 1850 MHz Hughes-designed TWT transponders (one active and one spare).

Comment Re:Digital broadcast (Score 1) 576 576

This is the experience YouTube can't deliver.

They could if they wanted to. I haven't looked at their bitrates recently, but I'm suspecting they're in the 800kbit/s range. You can get decent quality out of h.264 for 720p30 at around 4 Mbit/s. That's less than an order of magnitude, and Flash can play back videos at that rate on many machines, including Atom-based ones.

My personal prediction is that we'll habve full-blown "Internet TV stations" in less than five years. Think Hulu or Netflix, just with Internet-only distribution of original programming.

Of course the main issue are the rights holders and their inability to untangle the legal mess that are the distribution agreements. But like the music industry, they have no chance but to adapt.

In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain. -- Pliny the Elder